With students camping out near United Supermarkets Arena in Lubbock since Saturday, the No. 14 Texas Tech Red Raiders have been welcoming former head coach Chris Beard and the Texas Longhorns to the South Plains with all the vitriol they can muster.
But Texas junior guard Brock Cunningham looks ready for the hostile environment, embracing the hatred of Texas Tech fans on Monday evening.
Texas’ Brock Cunningham wants the smoke from Red Raider fans. pic.twitter.com/LHjwiSseRI— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanHoops) February 1, 2022
The Austin Westlake product could play a key role on Tuesday evening when the two teams tip off — Cunningham has seen his playing time increase in recent games and things just seem to go well for the Longhorns when he’s on the court.
Against Tennessee, Cunningham had a block and recorded four defensive rebounds in his 16 minutes of action, helping secure some crucial possessions for Texas against one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the country.
When TCU filled its arena with the largest crowd in school history, Cunningham was at his rugged best, scoring two baskets and assisting on four others while hustling for five offensive rebounds among the seven caroms he collected.
Cunningham still doesn’t score much on offense, in part because of his continued reluctance to try to finish around the rim, but he has been playing with a high level of efficiency, shooting 62.1 percent from the field, up from 27.7 percent last season, and hitting 54.5 percent of his three-point attempts in a small sample size.
His offensive rebounding rate, assist rate, steal rate, and free-throw rate are all the highest of his career and his turnover rate is at a career low.
So when Texas needs some toughness and hustle on Tuesday, Cunningham is the player Beard could turn to in what should be a physical, low-possession game.
Cunningham sure looks ready.